The Difficulty of Policy-Makers in Using Policy Knowledge





Published date: 

December, 2001


Hen-Chin Chen


As policy problems have become more complex. policy researchers have tried their best to result in thoughtful policy decisions and valuable policy knowledge. To promote the capacity of state’s competitiveness, this policy knowledge should be used and diffused.

Regardless a growth in the volume of policy knowledge in the past decades, most research indicate that governmental policy-makers did not make direct use of policy knowledge. To an extent, policy knowledge only changes policy-makers' conceptualization of policy problems.

The purpose of this paper is to explore why policy-makers are unlikely to use policy knowledge, and under what conditions policy-­makers will use it. To do so, the policy context needs be examined in understanding the extent and types of policy knowledge use. In other words, policy-makers'behavior in the decision-making settings must be incorporated into the policy knowledge utilization literature.
In addition, the policy capacity of government is closely related to policy-makers'attitude to policy knowledge. However, the relationship between policy-makers and policy knowledge has always been difficulty to define. In contrast to conventional conceptualizations of policy knowledge utilization, this paper tries to examine the differences among policy-makers, expecting they do not view their responsibility or attempt to use policy knowledge the same way.

The main content of this paper is fourfold: first of all, through a review and integration of these theories (knowledge-specific theory, policy-maker's constraint theory, and the two communities theories), this paper puts forward another synthesis model. Secondly, it identifies four main influential factors (including the policy-making types, the features of policy-makers, the decision-making context, and the features of decision-making setting) for policy-makers in using policy knowledge utilization are presented. Finally, it makes some conclusions and suggestions for future research.